Yang Jianli is founder and president of Initiatives for China. He was imprisoned in China from 2002 to 2007 for attempting to monitor labor unrest.\r\nOn Feb. 15, Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang turned 42. It was the 951st day of his imprisonment \u2014 and he has had zero contact with the outside world for that entire time. Wang spent his 40th and 41st birthdays likewise incommunicado. Nor has he had any access to his lawyer, Yu Wensheng, who was recently himself detained and charged with \u201cinciting subversion.\u201d Nor was Wang able to be with his son and wife, the fearless Li Wenzu. They haven\u2019t seen him since he was first detained in early August 2015.\u00a0He could, in fact, already be dead, but his family is clinging to the hope that he is not.\r\nOn that same day in Washington, Susan Thornton, acting assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs (EAP) at the State Department, appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for her confirmation hearing to be the next assistant secretary for EAP. After ticking off some of the most egregious human rights trends in the region, including China\u2019s turn away from human rights, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) asked Thornton to reaffirm to the committee her commitment to human rights, which she did. \u201cStanding up for democracy [and] human rights is part of who we are,\u201d Thornton said. Human rights, she added, \u201cneed to be part of every conversation we have with governments around the world.\u201d\r\nWang\u2019s case should \u201cbe part of every conversation\u201d the U.S. government has with the Chinese government. He is an extraordinarily courageous man who has not succumbed to the authorities\u2019 likely demand for a public confession. Based on similar cases, we can assume that Wang has also been tortured relentlessly.\r\nThe authorities seized Wang on Aug. 3, 2015, in a sweep of human rights lawyers and defenders that resulted in the detention and interrogation of more than 300 people. This unprecedented attack is known as the 709 Crackdown because the first arrests took place on July 9, 2015. Those who have since emerged from custody have suffered various forms of torture and maltreatment. Wang is no different. But what makes his case unique is the extraordinarily long period of his detention. He is the last remaining detainee from the group who is still in prison. He has now been incarcerated for 960 days in total.\r\nWang was subsequently indicted on Feb. 14, 2017. The most recent reports we received seemed to suggest that he was being held at Tianjin No. 2 Detention Center. And yet, neither his wife nor his lawyers have been able to meet with him, so it is hard to say for sure.\r\nBorn on Feb. 15, 1976, in a rural area of Shandong province, Wang has represented a wide range of clients and taken on many sensitive cases since graduating from Shandong University Law School in 2000. He stayed in Jinan, Shandong, after graduation, working in legal aid and giving free lectures to villagers on Chinese law relating to issues relevant to their lives, such as rural land rights. Wang received many threats because of his work and eventually decided to leave Jinan. He moved to Beijing in 2008.\r\nAt the time of arrest, Wang was practicing law with the Fengrui Law Firm. Wang has been a particularly brave advocate in the rights defense movement, representing Falun Gong practitioners as well as other persecuted human rights defenders, such as housing rights activist Ni Yulan and the journalist Qi Chonghuai. In recent years, Wang focused increasingly on cases involving freedom of religion and belief, and took on more and more clients who were practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice that is outlawed in China; such cases are known to be particularly sensitive, and many human rights lawyers have steered clear of them because of the high risk involved.\r\nBefore Wang was detained in the 709 Crackdown, he had previously been harassed, beaten and detained by Chinese authorities. In April 2013, for example, police took Wang into custody in a courtroom in Jiangsu province, while he was in the middle of providing a vigorous defense of his client, a Falun Gong practitioner, and given a 10-day term of \u201cjudicial detention.\u201d This was reportedly a first, and many human rights lawyers and rights defenders from around the country came to his defense, launching a protest outside the courthouse, which resulted in Wang\u2019s early release from \u201cjudicial detention.\u201d\r\nIn July 2015, the month before Wang was taken away, he wrote a letter to his parents in which he expressed his commitment to the work he had chosen to do \u2014\u00a0 indeed, was called to do \u2014 and asked for their understanding and trust. He wrote: \u201cI have never abandoned the qualities Father and Mother instilled in me: honesty, kindheartedness, integrity. In all these years, I have used these principles to guide my life. Even though I\u2019ve often been steeped in despair, I have never given up thoughts for a better future.\u201d\r\nWang closed his letter to his parents with these words: \u201cDear Father and Mother, please feel proud of me. Also, no matter how horrible the environment is, you must hang on and live, and wait for the day when the clouds will disperse and the sun will come out.\u201d\r\nThe State Department, Congress, and the U.S. mission in Beijing must raise Wang\u2019s case consistently and forcefully with the Chinese government. By doing so, they can give Wang and his family hope \u201cfor a better future\u201d and for the day when Wang can be reunited with his family.\r\nClick here to read the original article in the Washington Post.